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How To Combat Sitting Disease

There’s a new epidemic sweeping America: Sitting Disease.

With the invention of the computer, the internet and the extension of the work day/week, our society has switched to a more sedentary work environment where minimal-to-no physical activity occurs for 8-12 hours a day. The average American sits for at least 60% of his or her day — and this percentage only increases for those who work in front of a computer most of the day.

Researchers have linked periods of prolonged sitting with elevated risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and death. It has also shown that even if you get the recommended guidelines for exercise (30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, five days a week), you are still at a higher risk of disease.

Some research has even suggested that people who exercise intensely (marathoners/triathletes) are more likely to be sedentary when they are not exercising because they assume their training protects them from the harmful effects of sitting. False!

So what can you do to combat your risk for sitting disease?

The main goal is to reduce sitting time and increase “non-exercise” physical activity throughout the day. The best way to do this is to create reasons to get up from your desk. Try these simple tactics:

  • Stand up to talk on the phone.
  • Walk to see a colleague instead of phoning or emailing.
  • Centralize trash cans and printers so you have to get up to use them.
  • Use the bathroom on a different floor or on the other side of the office

Another way to incorporate more movement into your day is to move while still sitting at your desk. Try these exercises:

Arm Reach Matrix:
(1) Alternate reaching one arm up and extending back, then switch arms.
(2) Alternate reaching one arm up and over your head to the opposite side, then switch arms.
(3) Alternate reaching one arm out in front of you and rotate towards opposite shoulder, then switch arms.
(4) Alternate reaching your right arm out to the right side, then reach your left arm out to the left side.

Thoracic Spine Matrix:
Cross your arms and use your shoulders to drive forward and back, sidebend to each side, rotate to each side. Perform 10x.

Cervical Spine Matrix:
Move head up/down, bring ear down to each shoulder, look over each shoulder. Perform 10x.

Lumbar Stretch:
Twist to the side and grab hold of your chair. While holding on, roll your hips forward to arch your back, then roll hips backward to round your back.

Butt Walks/Wiggles:
Without using your arms, start at the back of your chair and walk your butt forward by lifting one hip at a time then walk back (don’t fall off!). You can also just wiggle your hips up and down in place.

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